Daniel Royer is second with 10 goals on the Red Bulls. (Brad Penner/USA TODAY Sports)
By Michael Lewis
Daniel Royer is close to being fully fit to perform for the Red Bulls, but that might not be enough to earn a spot on the team’s roster for Wednesday night’s Lamar Hunt/U.S. Open Cup final at Sporting Kansas City.
The Austrian midfielder recently returned to full training after missing more than a month of action after suffering a hyper-extended knee in the 3-2 loss to New York City FC Aug. 6.
Red Bulls head coach Jesse Marsch said that Royer’s availability could be complicated with an Open Cup rule that limits teams to five foreign players in each match of the competition.
With the Red Bulls having eight foreign candidates to fill five spots, that could put Royer’s availability in jeopardy. The other seven players are defenders Michael Murillo and Fidel Escobar (both Panama) and Damien Perrinelle (France), midfielders Felipe (Brazil) and forwards Bradley Wright-Phillips (England), Gonzalo Veron (Argentina) and Muhammed Keith (Gambia).
“I don’t think he’s ready to start, but I think he’s a consideration for the 18,” Marsch said on a conference call Monday afternoon previewing the final. “Then we just have to evaluate where he’s at physically and how he feels and then also looking at our international restrictions.
“You’re only allowed five in the tournament so you have to then try to get the balance right on what foreigners that you’re calling on. So, the only way we feel we can put Danny on the roster if he is 100 percent and he’s ready to go and I think he’s close.”
Marsch said he will make a decision Tuesday.
Royer, who was named Major League Soccer player of the month for July, is the team’s second-leading goal-scorer with 10.
“When we lost Danny, it was unfortunate because he was playing quite well,” Marsch said. “He just came off being player of the month, scoring a lot of goals. When he was injured, we created a time frame that we thought would wind up with the Open Cup final.”
So, Royer is right on target. Whether he will be fit enough to play to shoot balls at the target is another matter.